SAPR Source

Letter from the Director

Major General Mary Kay HertogGreetings from SAPRO! In April, the Department joined the nation in observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and I would like to thank all the Services for their support to mark this annual event. We successfully capitalized on SAAM as an opportunity to raise public awareness and educate Service members and civilians on sexual assault prevention. From the DoD Safe Helpline posters in public transit stations to the Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) Award Ceremony, your support and participation highlighted the Department's continued commitment to combating sexual assault in our Armed Forces.

The Secretary of Defense continues to make sexual assault prevention, policy, and programs a priority for the DoD. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with the newly established Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus and the Caucus on Women in the Military on April 16 to discuss new training and policy initiatives to combat sexual assault in the military. The Secretary then issued a press release to announce initiatives that reinforce DoD's commitment to eradicating sexual assault from the Armed Forces and providing care to our victims. Highlighting the Secretary of Defense's commitment is a Memorandum he issued withholding initial disposition authority under the Uniform Code of Military Justice in certain sexual assault cases and elevating that jurisdiction to commanders who are special court-martial convening authorities and are colonels or Navy captains, or higher. This new policy goes into effect on June 28, 2012.

In this edition of the SAPR Source, you will get the latest information on the April Exceptional SARC Award Ceremony, the release of the Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report, Safe Helpline training, and new sexual assault questions within command climate surveys. This edition also spotlights the Marine Corps' innovative SAPR efforts.

Thank you for all that you do in promoting SAPR within your organization! Together, we will achieve our mutual goal of enhancing SAPR programs.

Mary Kay Hertog
Major General, USAF
Director, SAPRO


2012 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Awards Ceremony

On April 18, Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, Acting Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), hosted a well-attended ceremony for the 2012 DoD Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC). The ceremony provided the forum for Ms. Lynn Rosenthal, White House Adviser on Violence Against Women, and Ms. Edna MacDonald, Deputy Director for Operations, Veterans Benefits Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to highlight the awardees' accomplishments, the importance of preventing sexual assault, and the importance of the continuum of care for transitioning Service members. Maj Gen Hertog also praised the awardees for their professionalism and dedication to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and those they serve.

Congratulations to this year's Exceptional SARCs:

Master Sergeant William A. Downey, United States Army
Ms. Julia G. Powell, United States Navy
Ms. Latricia Kamins, United States Marine Corps
Captain Terri L. Zuber, United States Air Force
Major Alisa Englert, National Guard
Mr. Magnus John Graham, United States Coast Guard

Photos of the event can be found on http://www.sapr.mil.

Top Row:  Award Recipients from left:  L. Kamins, T. Zuber, M. Graham, J. Powell, W. Downey, and A. Englert. 

Second Row: Ms. Lynn Rosenthal and Dr. Jo Ann Rooney

Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Released!

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military published on April 13. The report contains a review of major programmatic initiatives and achievements from FY11, along with Department plans for FY12. It also includes statistical data on reports from the Military Departments on sexual assaults involving members of the Armed Forces under their jurisdiction during the preceding FY. The intent of the report is to communicate SAPR program oversight and progress to Congress.

In FY11, there were a total of 3,192 reports of sexual assault involving Service members as victims or subjects. This represents a one-percent increase over FY10 total reports.

The Department has made progress in preventing and responding to sexual assault, while recognizing the need to continue prevention training and ensure all Service members have confidence to report incidents of sexual assault. For example, the Department:

  • Focused efforts to improve response through programs, policies, and activities that advance victim care and augment the military justice process;
  • Worked to improve the confidence Service members have in the reporting process by engendering a positive command climate, enhancing education about reporting options, and reducing stigma and other barriers that deter reporting;
  • Made significant strides in the development of an integrated database that will track incidents of sexual assault, which was launched at the end of March for some components;
  • Continued to standardize case disposition definitions as related to investigations of sexual assault; and
  • Informed and educated stakeholders on the progress of SAPR in the Military Services.

The complete report is available at http://www.sapr.mil.


Snapshot: Major General Hertog Offers a Commander's Perspective to Safe Helpline Staff

DoD Safe Helpline staff members are required to stay abreast of any DoD program or policy changes that might impact the sexual assault support they provide to the DoD community. Twice during the month of February, Maj Gen Mary Kay Hertog, Director of SAPRO, visited the training sessions to assess the comprehensiveness and applicability of the training. Training topics under review included:

  • Restricted reporting for military dependents over the age of 18;
  • Expedited transfers;
  • Military protective orders; and
  • Expansion of the categories of individuals who are offered emergency care.

Maj Gen Hertog provided closing remarks emphasizing that the Safe Helpline is an important asset to the Department and is vital in its support to victims.

About the Safe Helpline (www.safehelpline.org): The Safe Helpline is a crisis support and resource referral service for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault and offers a way to communicate confidentially and anonymously. Safe Helpline provides live, one-on-one support and information to the worldwide DoD community. Safe Helpline services are owned by DoD and are operated by a contract with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.


Sexual Assault Questions Now Part of DEOMI Organizational Climate Survey

Establishing the correct command climate is key to prevention and can encourage reporting. As of March 2012, commanders now have a new tool to help them assess their unit's climate. All respondents taking the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) Organizational Climate Survey (DEOCS) began completing survey items associated with the sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) climate within their workplace. More than 50,000 DoD respondents have completed these questions. The inclusion of these questions are an important step in providing leadership with the knowledge needed to measure and address the climate associated with SAPR within their units.

As a commander's management tool, the DEOCS allows a commander to proactively assess critical organizational climate dimensions that can impact the organization's effectiveness. The sexual assault-related questions assess individual perceptions of leadership support for SAPR, knowledge of sexual assault reporting options, perceived barriers to reporting sexual assault, and the likelihood of engaging in bystander intervention. For example, the survey asks the respondents to note their level of agreement with the following statements on leadership:

  • Statement 1: My leadership promotes a climate that is free of sexual assault.
  • Statement 2: My leadership would respond appropriately in the event an assault was reported.

"DEOMI welcomes our partnership with SAPRO and our sincere desire is that the addition of SAPR climate questions to the DEOCS will help commanders combat the occurrence of sexual assault within their organizations," said Mr. Ronald M. Joe, DEOMI's Principal Director. "This new tool will empower commanders to measure the prevention-focused climate within their organizations and whether members trust leadership to respond appropriately if a sexual assault does occur."

Last fiscal year, the DEOCS was administered to more than 1.4 million Service members and civilians across the DoD. Information from the DEOCS was provided to more than 8,100 commanders, making this capability far reaching and effective as a readiness tool.

To learn more about the DEOMI Organizational Climate Survey, please visit: http://www.deocs.net/public/index.cfm.


Spotlight on the Marine Corps: "Take A Stand" - Marine Corps Bystander Intervention Training for Non-Commissioned Officers

By Melissa Cohen, Marine Corps SAPR Program Manager

On January 15, 2012, the Marine Corps SAPR program launched a new training course for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), titled "Take A Stand." Over a year in the making, the completely revitalized course now uses video components and interactive activities to stimulate conversation, reduce stigma, and teach the principles of bystander intervention, an evidence-based best practice in sexual assault prevention.

In creating "Take A Stand," USMC SAPR focused on two key elements. First, Marines have a long and rich history of looking out for each other while upholding the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. This tradition already prepares them to help prevent sexual assault, a crime incompatible with those values. The vast majority of Marines will never commit a sexual assault--and, given the right tools and training, can help prevent one from occurring.

Second, the greatest weapon in the battle against sexual assault has been, and will continue to be, decisive and effective leadership. To emphasize leadership's commitment to ending sexual assault and to disseminate the top-down message that one sexual assault is one too many, the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps speak directly to course participants on their responsibility to step up and step in.

Research has shown that the most effective sexual assault prevention programs are those customized to address the specific needs and customs of their target audience. Therefore, to maximize the impact of the key elements--the tradition of Marines standing up for each other and the leadership message that sexual assault will not be tolerated--the training is as realistic and true to life as possible.

"Take A Stand" uses dramatizations which are composites of actual incidents, featuring a realistic speech which might be heard in the barracks. NCOs in focus groups across the country evaluated the scripts for authenticity. In addition to videos of the Commandant and Sergeant Major, the course features video clips of Marines of all ranks speaking directly to participants on the importance of prevention. Several Marines who have experienced sexual assault bravely share their stories. Finally, the course is always taught by a trained Uniformed Victim Advocate, further enhancing the "Marine-to-Marine" message. These individual elements work together to reinforce the clear, consistent USMC message that every Marine, starting with our leaders, must take ownership of this problem.

This extensive effort produced an emotionally impactful and highly interactive training course, which has received positive feedback from the field. Participants have particularly noted the power of seeing fellow Marines speaking directly about how being sexually assaulted has affected them.

The overarching goal of the Marine Corps is to reduce the number of sexual assaults and to create an environment of trust. "Take A Stand" helps ensure that every Marine is empowered with the information and tools necessary to do his or her responsibility to step up and step in--a critical component of sexual assault prevention.